As the latest step in the ongoing archdiocesan strategic planning, Lower Northeast Philadelphia’s St. Hugh of Cluny Parish will close and merge with St. Veronica to form a new parish, keeping the St. Veronica name. The announcement was made at all Masses at the parishes Jan. 12-13.
The merger is effective Jan. 27. St. Hugh of Cluny will remain as a worship site for the time being.
Both parishes are located in PPA (Parish Planning Area) 560, have a heavily Hispanic population and are staffed by priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word (I.V.E.) as pastors.
St. Hugh, which was founded in 1922 in the Fairhill neighborhood, averaged 532 weekend worshipers according to the 2011 October count.
That is a process in which parish personnel count all attendees of Masses during each of the four Sundays of October each year in every parish of the Archdiocese. The resulting statistic, often compared to the number of registered members of a parish, gives a useful tool for measuring one aspect of parish life.
St. Veronica, founded in 1872 in Hunting Park, had 691 weekend worshipers.
Father David M. Vidal, I.V.E., is pastor of St. Veronica and administrator of St. Hugh. He will continue on as pastor of the newly reconstituted St. Veronica and will be officially installed along with the new joint pastoral and finance councils by Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald on Saturday, Jan. 26, during the 5:30 p.m. liturgy at St. Veronica.
“We are committed to forming a vibrant community worshipping at St. Veronica and at St. Hugh as part of St. Veronica,” Father Vidal said. “We are committed to working together.”
As a worship site of St. Veronica, St. Hugh will continue to have Masses celebrated and “be a vibrant place of worship,” he pledged.
Jesus Burgos, who has been youth director at St. Hugh, said, “I’m neutral on this decision. As a parishioner, whether it is here or there I will give 100 percent wherever God has me.”
The decision to merge the two parishes was mostly done for financial realities, Burgos thinks. The people are poor and cannot afford to keep their parish going.
“I like the fact that Father Vidal is moving towards a worship site, but saying, ‘Let’s build on it.’ We have so many Hispanic people of different nationalities. We want to get everyone together. The old folks have been doing the work, now the young people are stepping up. Kids are resilient.”
Although there are no other announcements for PPA 560 at this time, it is expected there will be further announcements in coming weeks or in the spring. Other parishes in the PPA that could be affected are Holy Innocents, Mater Dolorosa, St. Joachim and St. Joan of Arc.
Earlier in January it was announced there would be three mergers affecting five parishes in PPA 600 and one parish in PPA 610.
This included St. Callistus and Our Lady of Lourdes at Our Lady of Lourdes; Our Mother of Sorrows and St. Ignatius of Loyola at St. Ignatius; and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and St. Cyprian (PPA 610) at St. Cyprian. More announcements are also expected for PPA 610 soon.
Other PPAs under study at this time include PPA 500 in Northeast Philadelphia, PPA 540 in Northwest Philadelphia, PPA 650 in Center City and PPAs 320 and 270 in Delaware County.
Lou Baldwin is a freelance writer and a member of St. Leo Parish, Philadelphia.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Share this story